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Poetry and Performance (1) – Approaching UNESCO World Poetry Day 2016

Posted in Uncategorized by lyrikline on 15. March 2016

poetry and p

Recordings and vocal chords, author and speaker, recitation or modulation: In preparation of the World Poetry Day lyrikline is going to address the diverse topic of poetry and performance. Starting with recording situations and classical readings we want to focus on theoretical approaches to performance as well as multimedia presentations of poetry. A posting about great sound poetry performers and the celebration of the World Poetry Day on the 21st of March mark the beginning of a new year full of poetry, readings and performances. 

Ndeutsche fassung2ext to texts, pictures and clips (some in German only but with a short English summary) we want to complement each of our postings with a playlist of well-chosen lyrikline poets. 

>>>  [a playlist for World Poetry Day 2016] live performances 

In addition there will be a daily release of poetry that is new on lyrikline featuring poets from around the world. But before we start with the various ways of presenting a poem...

Dichterinnenperformance Weltklang 2015 foto: gezett

A poet´s performance  Weltklang 2015 photo: gezett

…let´s have a look at PERFORMANCE:

The term performance describes artistic actions that require a simultaneous presence of one or more performers and an audience. In everyday language performance suggests a certain level of entertainment or is being used to describe mixtures between art forms like literature and music. When we asked the audience of Literaturwerkstatt Berlin they told us that a performance should have an “extra” or something “unusual” and that it could also include improvisations.


Do those expectations match the theoretical approaches of performance theory?

The term performance appeared on the field of philosophy of language around the mid twentieth century and is still is being used to describe speaking as a performative act stating and transforming a reality (speech act theory). With the performative turn of the anthroposophical studies all culture was being discussed as performative.

The ground breaking artistic actions of the Fluxus movement or of artists like Marina Abramović at the end of the twentieth century could no longer be covered by the traditional categories of art and art forms. On indoor stages and out on the streets performances started to take place that would interact with the audience. Instead of presenting a completed work of art processes and interactions became an artistic event of an ephemeral and therefore unique character. The performers appeared as themselves. Their acts were different from the illusionistic moves of common actors. During a performance art and reality coincide.

Is that what the audience at the Literaturwerkstatt Berlin meant by expecting something “extra” of a performance?

Maybe yes.

A performative approach questions the primacy of the written above the oral. It allows a new relation between producer and consumer and of the divide between theory and practice. Insufficient concepts like the ones of originality or authenticity are being replaced by questions that aim at an individual aesthetic experience.

But what has poetry to do with all of that? The German poet and scientist Anja Utler states that the reading of poems has so far not often been the object of performative reflection. But is it not here that the relations between language, sound and voice, of presence and the crossing of borders are being approached? What would a performative reflection look like? And what is the role of the audience? In an interview Anja Utler answers our questions about the perception of spoken poetry. A short summary of the German interview will be published on Thursday. How the authors experience a reading of their own poetry will be our subject for tomorrow.


For previous World Poetry Days we discussed subjects like poetry and refugees, poetry and film, translation of poetry or various poetological approaches. We had a look at the work spaces of authors and searched for historical performances of poets. All previous postings can be found at world-poetry-day.


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